Hazel Swanson

Hazel Swanson

Forester, Timberlands

In a nutshell: I'm moving around the departments, learning about all the different operations. I'm currently in the Harvesting and Marketing team, helping to plan roads and harvesting operations, and working on an environmental project.

Why? "The amount of time in the field is awesome – generally I spend half my working week out in the forest."

Pathway: New Plymouth Girls' High School, final year subjects: Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Statistics, Calculus
University of Canterbury: Bachelor of Forestry Science

Earning: $40-50,000 graduate salary

I definitely preferred maths and science subjects at school, particularly Calculus and Chemistry. Maths is an important part of my job as I deal with a lot of data every day.

I originally went to university to study engineering, but a year into it I decided it wasn't for me. I'd taken a forestry paper as an elective and I really enjoyed it, so I changed degrees and haven't regretted it.

My studies were supported by a couple of scholarships: from the Canterbury branch of Graduate Women New Zealand and the LA Alexander Agricultural Trust.

You need to do 90 days of work experience to get the Bachelor of Forestry degree. I worked at a sawmill in New Plymouth, in the land management team at Taranaki Regional Council, and in the forestry team at the Carter Holt Harvey [now Oji Fibre Solutions] pulp and paper mill at Kinleith.

As a graduate forester I get to do six-month long rotations around the different departments at Timberlands, the company that manages the Kaingaroa Forest – the largest plantation forest in the southern hemisphere.

I did a rotation in the Tree Crop team where I coordinated the daily quality control operations for pruning, thinning and planting. It's about keeping track of what's been completed and where, so I spent time out with the plotting crews and then analysed the data.

I'm currently in the Harvesting and Marketing team, where I help plan logging roads and harvesting operations across the whole forest estate.

I'm also responsible for a project making sure that we maintain a high environmental standard in the areas we've harvested. We need to prevent sediment and harvest waste entering the many waterways within the forest.

The work is extremely varied and my job changes with the seasons. I also get involved in tasks that aren't directly related to my role, including helicopter rides, controlled burns for fire training, and retrieving falcon [kārearea] eggs for incubation. There's a large population of falcons within our forest so sometimes we have to move our operations, especially during breeding season.

I think forestry is a career that would suit almost anyone. There's a lot of different pathways and jobs for both people who like doing practical things outdoors and for those who prefer the technical and analytic side. You do need to be a 'people person', have problem-solving skills and be enthusiastic.

Posted March 2017

Follow this pathway:

Degree in Agricultural, Forestry or Horticultural Science

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Forester: People who work in this role

  • Joshua Tansey

    Harvest Operations Coordinator , Joshua Tansey at work

    Acacia Farmery

    Graduate Forester, Acacia Farmery at work

    Jacob Saathof

    Forest Engineer, Jacob Saathof at work

    Shaun Andrews

    Harvesting Operations Coordinator, Shaun Andrews at work
  • Tony Li

    Forestry Consultant, Tony Li at work

    Alfred Duval

    Regional Forester, Alfred Duval at work

    Sheridan Ashford

    Export Operations Manager, Sheridan Ashford at work

    Paul Jensen

    Director, Paul Jensen at work
  • Hazel Swanson

    Graduate Forester, Hazel Swanson at work

    Jessica Brown

    Planning & Valuation Analyst , Jessica Brown at work

Forester: Companies that employ people in this job role

  • Ministry for Primary Industries
    Ministry for Primary Industries
    Rayonier Matariki Forests
    Rayonier Matariki Forests

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